An Ode To July 

1. The Hoosier state’s livid heat wave. Sweat sticking to the soft forehead of kids playing on the playground. Ice cream on the front porch that melts faster than you can lick and lands on the concrete steps you’re sitting on. 

2. The tomatoes in my backyard are ripening. They are in that stage of a yellowish green which will soon give way to a sun-kissed red. My figures smell like their tangy juice after gliding my figures over their smooth surface. Waiting to pick them is like watching and waiting for the sun to rise on the summer solstice.

3. That time I left my sunroof open during a clear blue sunny day. I was inside the bank for 20 minutes when the heavens decided to let the floodgates open and pour down a warm wet rain that saturated my car’s interior. There was a rainbow peeking out from the clouds and it was sunny the rest of the day.

4.  Laying in a hammock between the shade of two trees is one of the most calming actions you can take in a claim to self-care and relaxation. I defiantly suggest bringing with you a good book and a bowl of ice cream.

5. The County Fair: culture hub of the Midwest. If you’re looking for what farmer do for summer fun, this is where you go. Booths that sell lemon shake-ups, elephant ears, and fried tenderloins scatter the grounds. If you walk over to the pig and cattle barn you’ll find young boys and girls chilling out by their animals or washing their pigs for the Friday night auction. I know the people over in the goat barn. 

6.  9:20 pm drives home through the suburban area of midwestern no-where. The July that I write this is the last July I’ll have in school. 

7. The year 2014, age 17, the year where I spent the entire month of July in the state of Florida. My family bought a house five minutes away from the gates of Disney and we spent our whole damn summer painting, scrapping, tiling and completing other vast renovations. All in over-heated, humid, sticky, swampy Florida. It’s a vacation rental now. My body acclimated to the climate so much that, when I came back to Indiana, wearing a jacket and socks in the 80-degree weather was a must.

8. Mosquito bites. Period.

9. We bought a kayak. It is one of those blow-up kinds that have the potential to easily pop but you don’t think about that while out in the middle of the water. Best investments of this summer. To test the 11’ kayak out, we took it over to my friend’s house and tried to use it within the constraints of their 17’x8’ pool. 

10. I listed the county fair but did I mention the fair’s Queen Contest? This year, 21 contestants lined up in the hot rusty indoor arena, to win the judges heart and become the next Miss Johnson county. People were walking around with t-shirts that supported one of the contestants which said: “Good Enough to Scoop Poop, Good Enough to be Your Queen”, with a little a clip-art photo of a pig wearing a tiara.

11. You can find me during this Queen Contest with a couple of my fair time acquaintances up in the bleacher “trash talking” (as my friend put it) about the dresses, the hair, and each girl’s queenly or not so queenly wave. We bet on who will win. None of us win.

12. The Zinnia seeds that I planted back in May are finally blooming. According to Wikipedia, these flowers are “a genus of plants of the sunflower tribe within the daisy family. They are native to scrub and dry grassland in an area stretching from the Southwestern United States to South America, with a center of diversity in Mexico.”

13.   Every 

14.      Day 

15.          Seems 

16.                 To 

17.                Drag 

18.                         On

19.                            Longer     

20.                                and Longer… 

21. My first kiss happened on a July 20th. It was a fabulous kiss. We were cutting strawberries in my kitchen and he leaned over an grabbed my cheeks with is wet, fruity fingers. He did that cute thing where he held a strawberry between his teeth and had me lean in and eat it, then kissed me more.

22. Mentioning strawberries, we had some in our garden when I was a kid, 2009 maybe? I ate them until my figures turn red and my stomach turned spoiled from all the natural sugar. I remember making jam out of them. My mom chopping them up and making a sort of jellied concoction to put into a ball jar and freeze so we’d have fresh preserves all summer.

23. That time my photo of old picture frames went viral on Tumblr happened on July 23, 2016. 1,444 notes. My one and only claim to social media fame.

24. Bored. So bored that you just lay on your bed and look up at the ceiling fan, trying to count how many times it circulates. Congratulations younger me, you hit your summer break’s bedrock boredom faze. It only goes up from here.

25. Actually being homeschooled, you don’t get a summer break. Not really. Learning world history from the adventurous outdoors of my backyard playground was never the best, but then again it was better than hitting bedrock boredom. At least I was learning something.

26.  Light filters through the crack between the umbrella and the house, between the wood planks on the table, between the curtain and the window, between my eyelids and the morning. 

27. This might have happened in August but I’ll list it here anyway. I rode an elephant once.  It was my biggest dare, my greatest achievement, the masked truth I’d use in two truths and a lie. It happened at our Indiana State fare. I’m proud to say I still have the sticker which pictured the said elephant I rode with the world printed in bold I RODE AN ELEPHANT which they gave me after I dismounted. I satisfyingly wore it the rest of the day. 

28. One summer my mom, brother, and I ventured out into the wild west into the states of Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota. On the last leg home, we tiredly sang “Back Home Again In Indiana” right as we crossed over the Wabash River. The moonlight glissaded on its surface and we were happy to be home. 

29 Basel leaves have this scent that penetrates the whole garden and invites you, and the beetles, in to eat their leaves. The beetles prefer them raw. I prefer them with cheese, tomato sauce, and homemade pizza dough.

30.  My birthday is in October, however, the year I was to turn 12 I wanted a warm summer birthday party so bad that we decided to celebrate my birth in July instead. I had an ice cream party where all my friends came. A three-layer ice cream cake from Cold Stone graced the table. It was frozen, so frozen that my dad had to get out the electric turkey knife to be able to cut through it. I cried. I’ve had all my birthday parties in October since then. 

31. July. Ironically yet sincerely my least favorite month of the year. 

What I Learned in English 318

My Post

This is the end of finals week. It has come and gone in a flash and this blog post is going to be my final for my English 318 class. Throughout the semester, I worked on a lot of platforms, learning about my e-voice and creating content on Wikipedia, this blog, and on a podcast. In this reflection, I’m going to focus on e-voice, both what I’ve learned about it and my definition of e-voice, and this blog and how I’ve expressed my voice through it.

Head on over to the link below to check out my video about my definition of voice, my personal voice, and what my next steps are, here.

Ok! Now that you’re back, I want to talk a little more about the different strategies I used to create content.

Over the course of this semester, I created multiple different kinds of content, however, I’m going to focus on this blog and the strategies that I used for writing post, designing the layout, and choosing the photos.

Some of the ‘small-scale’ strategies that I used (the strategies specific to the WordPress platform), were things like making sure my layout was clean, warm, and easily navigatable; letting all the font be correlated and flow; and making sure my photographs flowed, correlated with the text, and where visually appealing.

I did these things not only to create an inviting space for you, my audience to come to, but also to show that my content is of quality and value. For example, when I was picking the photos (which I did take myself), I was thinking about how they are going to be received by you, my audience, and how they impact and enhance my writing. The photo for my post, Yolk, Indianapolis, add meaning and value to the post because, since it’s a restaurant review, they show the food and its quality, the menu and some of the things they have to offer, and the surrounding area of the restaurant.

Some of the ‘large-scale’ strategies that I used (strategies where that can be used across different digital mediums), were considering my audience; considering the form in which I was creating content in and the rules for the form; and considering the topic I was talking about, making sure it was something I was interested in and passionate about.

In the Web Writing Style Guide it says “know why you’re writing and who you’re writing it for” (9).  I found this advice helpful across all the platform that I worked on. If I knew why I was writing a piece, if I put interest and passion into it, it would become better produced and have more meaning and value. I also had to think about the rules and guidelines for each platform along with why I was writing it. Each platform has their own standards and ethics that you as a creator have to adhere to in order to produce content. For example, although Wikipedia is an open source sight and anyone can contribute, there is a strict set of rules and guidelines you have to follow in order for you to edit or add a page.

I had to consider my audience, as well. I had to know who I was reaching out to and, intern, what they were expecting from me in order to produce meaningful, good content that had value and worth.

Overall,  I learned so much this semester and will continue to used what I learned as I move forward. I hope to keep up with this blog and explore many other platforms using my e-voice and what I discovered about it.

Barton, Matt; Kalmabcj, James; Lows, Charles. “Web Writing Style Guide.”  Writing Spaces, Version 1.0. 2011. Print.

Hello — To The New And The Old

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I am always terrible at writing opening blog posts. Yet here I am, trudging through this first post like a champ.

Ha, not. In all honesty, I’ve tried to write this post for three days now and now I just need to get it out and down on the screen.

If you’re new to me and my writing, you should know that I used to blog at Selected Ampersand over on Blogger. However, I’m testing out this new space on WordPress. I started blogging back in 2014, my first blog was called The Dreamers Words, which I still have access to ironically (and I’m pretty sure you can still find out there on the internet somewhere). Back when I started blogging, My posts were short stories, poems, and thoughts on the things that I was learning or thinking about in that time of my life. To this day, I find myself writing about the same things. Sharing my creative writing while I couple it with essays on life and living. However, I’m sure not all the topics are going to be the same as what I wrote back in high school.

On this blog, you’ll probably find posts about food and recipes that are tried and true, books that I’ve read or am currently reading, stories and poems that I’m working on, photos of my travels and nonfiction accounts of the people that I meet and places that I see, and essays about life, love, and living from a twenty-something trying to find her way in life.

If you’re coming over to this blog from my previous blog on Blogger, I want to give you a huge THANK YOU! Thank you for clicking over to this new platform, for sticking with me. I know how change can be, especially if you’ve been going to the same website for the past several years. Rest assured that I have several new posts planned and ideas for this space that I’m ready to get a roll on.

So, to the new and the old — I just want to say thank you for clicking on the link that led to this little spot on the internet. Thank you for giving your time to reading this post and whatever else you might have happened to glance at or read on this blog of mine. I appreciate you and your time, readership, and thumbs that scrolled down the page to read these words. You can be sure that posts with genuine thought and content are to come.

M. Elaine

Continue reading “Hello — To The New And The Old”

Learning to Love This Harsh Winter

  A lot of things that I’ve been faced with lately are things that I don’t particularly like, but I’ve been learning to love. The month of August isn’t my favorite month of all time. The hot sticky heat, the return to school and life after a long bittersweet summer, and headaches that come from the sun that dominates the high noon hour gets to me. It’s a month that’s too heavy, too thick with sweat. However, in this past year, I learned to love the clingy month. I peaked around its corners and crawled under it’s edged to see what it really was about. What I found were sweet innocents. 

  It’s the same thing that I’m doing now, with this harsh January (I guess it’s now February; the year is flying by, isn’t it?) and the dry, sucking cold is getting the best of me and I can’t seem to find anything I love about it. It’s made my throat and muscles tense, tight, and red. It keeps me bundled up in thick coats and too heavy boots. I have to walk for blocks out in the open, with the dry ice of air being sucked into my nose and into my lungs. I can’t wait until it warms up a little and I can drive with my windows rolled down. 
This is one of those things though, one of those things that I hate but that I’m learning to love.

  Learning to love takes some time and endurance. It doesn’t just happen overnight. When you get into a commitment to learning to love something, you’re in it for the whole nine yards. You’re stuck and you can’t get out until you see the beauty in what’s there. The words eh, kinda, maybe, and sometimes don’t count. You have to give it you’re all.

  So, in light of learning to love a season — a dry cold season that has gotten the best of me and I can see it taking a long time to wait and see if I can actually coup with trying to figure this winter enjoyment thing out — here’s a list of things that I’ve learned that are perks, or aspects that I’ve paid attention to and can make little spots for in my spring longing heart:

Thick scarves, long scarfs, windy scarfs around your neck — the ones that you can bury your noise down in to keep it warm.

Red noises —- when one comes in from the icy air and the warmth relieves them, and their noise gets red from the temperature change.

Ice paintings on my car windows in the morning — they are so pretty I almost don’t want to scrap them off.

Warm cups of hot coffee & tea.

Good smelling hand lotion that you get to carry around in your bag to keep your hand from feeling chapped, but also makes you smell good. 

Good conversation — not that this can’t happen during other times of the year, but there is just something about being in a warm place with the cold hugging it’s windows, coats off hanging on the back of chairs and warms drinks caressed in hands, conversations that unfold in this manner seem to have more meaning and truth behind them.

And last but definitely not least, warm homemade meals — soup and bread and numerous other things can only be appreciated enough in the confinements of a draft house on a chilly winters night. 

(list to be continued) 

The Process of Being Human

 Last night I found a page in a journal that I’ve kept that has my hopes and goals for 2017 written down on it.

  It came as a surprise to me when I stumbled on the page. I clearly remember writing this list even though I’d forgotten about it most of the year. It was scrawled out in a fashion that marks that time period in my life.

  The white cream pages hold the black inked words of grow friendships, listen, speak more French, and keep a room clean.

  At the end of this list, I wrote: Know, at the end of 2017, that I’ve grown and changed and learned and failed in wonderful ways. That I went through a process of getting older and wiser, that at the beginning of the year I wasn’t perfect, and that’s ok.

  I wrote that on December 30, 2016. Today is December 30, 2017.

  One year later.

  As the year is now coming to a close I’ve been reflecting on just that, what my past self-wrote to my future self. I was going through some rough spots during that time. I was always beating myself up for who I was and what I did. Alway calling myself stupid, or not enough. Always wishing I was older, wiser, and better. That the past me would hide in shame for what she didn’t know and the decisions that she made. I ridiculed and judged myself. And sometimes, I think that’s the worst kind of judgment.

  Although I wrote that to myself at the end of last year, I kind of forgot about it and didn’t even realize that I was subconsciously, slowly, learning how to stop judging myself so harshly.

  This is what I’ve learned, subconsciously, within the last year: Who I was last December is ok. That girl is ok. There is nothing wrong with her, she was learning and growing. Don’t hate her, love her and let her know that she’s going to grow. More and more and more. She’s not stupid. She’s not shamed. That girl is accepted and loved, and because of that, her future self, me right in the exact moment, and be at peace and content and loving. I’m growing, constantly learning, and accepting that I don’t know everything. I will never know everything, and that’s ok.

  Giving yourself permission to love and accept your past self, to not judge yourself for what you didn’t know, puts you in a better position to accept yourself and grow more now, today, here in the present moment.

  My heart is at rest knowing that I never have and never will be perfect, so why always put the stress on myself, why try to act like I know everything when everything is too much for anyone and everyone to know in the first place. There is a process we all go through and we can’t judge yourself when we go through it.

  I’m far from perfect, I always will be, and even though I won’t stop improving myself, I’m not going to harshly judge myself for learning, becoming, and creating myself, faults and all. We have to learn to love the process of being human.